“I hate to be the one to tell you this, but Nana wants the photographer to do a picture of all the grandchildren together before the wedding,” Jake said after greeting them. “Uncle Mark sent me to round up you and Scott. Everyone else is already in the library.”
“Curt, does it look like I’m kidding?” The first time she met Jake, she noticed he had a sense of humor. Right now, though, he sounded completely serious. She didn’t think he was pulling Curt’s leg.
“Aren’t we all a bit old for family pictures?”
“Nana’s almost ninety. Do you really think she cares how old we are?” Jake asked.
She’d met Curt’s grandmother when they first arrived. The woman didn’t look or act like any ninety-year-old women she knew.
“She said the one she’s got is too old. And since everyone’s here today, including your brother, she wants a new one. The sooner we go, the sooner it’ll be over,” Jake explained before Curt protested more.
Holding in her laughter was impossible. Listening to the two grown men complain as they walked across the lawn reminded her of Reese’s response when told to clean her room or put away her laundry. “Think of it like this: you’ll be making your nana very happy.”
Her comment earned her a dirty look from both men.
“I see Scott with Aunt Marilyn. I’ll grab him and meet you inside,” Jake said before leaving them.
From the doorway, she watched the photographer position everyone before stepping back and surveying the group. Taylor thought it looked perfect. Evidently the photographer disagreed, because she directed Curt and Scott to swap places then asked Curt’s sister to turn more to the right.
“No. No. Gray should stand between Derek and Trent,” Theresa Sherbrooke, Curt’s grandmother, told the photographer. Just one of half a dozen suggestions she’d given since they gathered together in the library.
Before she lost it and disturbed everyone with her laughter, Taylor moved into the hallway. She was quickly learning Curt’s grandmother was a force all her own, as well as a woman with the love and respect of her entire family.
An unexpected ring sounded from her purse. She’d brought her cell along in case an emergency came up at home. She never actually expected to hear it ring today, or even this weekend. Taylor took several more steps away from the library door before pulling it out.
Mom. The simple name stared back at Taylor as a sudden coldness descended over her, sinking into her very core. She leaned against the wall and swallowed. Mom knew her plans for today. She’d never call unless an emergency had come up at home. “What’s wrong?” she demanded, skipping a polite hello.
“Reese is missing.” Mom said the words Taylor prayed she’d never hear. “Your sister took her.”
Fear welled up inside her chest and choked her. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get enough air into her lungs. Her heart hammered against her chest, threatening to break through her rib cage. This can’t be happening.
Get it together, Taylor commanded. She needed a clear head. Without one, she’d be of no help to Reese or Mom.
“Eliza took Reese? When? How?”
“This afternoon, from the birthday party.” Mom confirmed Taylor’s worst nightmare.
“Did you call the police?” It didn’t matter if Eliza was Reese’s biological mother or not. If she’d taken Reese without permission, the police needed to be involved.
“They’re with me now.” Mom’s voice quivered.
She wanted every detail, but first she needed a way home. “Let me find a way home and I’ll call you back. If anything changes before you hear from me, call right away.”
Asking Curt to leave his cousin’s wedding was out, which left her with two options: borrow Curt’s convertible, or use Rent-A-Ride. She’d rather drive herself, but understood Curt not wanting her to borrow a car that cost more than some homes.
With the family photo done, many of Curt’s cousins had left the library, including those in the wedding party. She’d lost track of time, but the ceremony must start soon. She didn’t pause before walking inside. Ignoring all the manners Mom drilled into her over the years, Taylor interrupted Jake, who stood talking with Curt.
“I need to go. If you don’t want me to borrow your car, I understand. But I wanted you to know I left.” She pulled up Rent-A-Ride’s app on her phone and turned away. Time wasn’t on her side. She needed to arrange a ride and get on the road. Her family needed her.
“Wait. Hold on.” His fingers closed around her wrist. “What happened?” he asked, his voice calm and concerned at the same time.
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